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The Quiet Storm

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‘Teachers know us better than an algorithm’: Students support exam grades decision

Written by on 25/02/2021

Normally the halls of the Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury would be bustling with its 1,000 pupils.

Most, though, are at home in the West Midlands, completing their lessons over Zoom.

I spot a few in the library, whose parents are key workers, and some who’ve popped in to give us their reaction to the news that teachers will assess their GCSE grades.

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‘No algorithm’ for England’s pupils

Around 190 pupils will be affected at the school, and the four 15-year-olds we spoke to were positive about the plan.

Paige Brookes said: “I just feel like exams would have been a good experience – but we have at least done mocks.”

Mason Parks told me he felt it was “suitable because they do know us the best and they’ve seen how we work in the classroom, they’ve seen our coursework, how we are in marks, and our results, and I feel like it’s a fair choice”.

There was a little reticence from student Millie Nott, who felt exams “would have been our chance to prove it to ourselves”.

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However, she added: “It’ll be good, teachers know us better than an algorithm.”

Millie Nott and Rajan Mattu
Image: Millie Nott and Rajan Mattu

Principal Kully Uppall tells me that actually the students have been assessed all through the year, whether it be over video link or in person.

He said he was “relieved” that there would be no algorithm after last year, which had caused “a lot of distrust”.

Principal of Bristnall Hall Academy Kully Uppall
Image: Principal of Bristnall Hall Academy, Kully Uppall

But could teacher assessment be open to abuse? Could it be tempting to award pupils higher grades?

“I think it’ll be robust and fair,” he said.

“I’m encouraged that exam boards will be taking samples, moderation will be in place, they’ll be checking for anomalies but most importantly we’ve got to trust our teaching profession – we are the experts.”

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No exams is ‘right way forward’ says PM

Pupil Rajan Mattu agreed.

He said: “I think it’ll be quite fair because at the end of the day if we’ve done the work we were set to do, and told to do, then we’ll be given the grade that we need for college and to go on in the future.”

All of the students, though, felt that teacher grades were the best way forward for this year.

 Sky News

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